One Sunday morning in a park next to a giant church: 2,000 worshipers began to gather.
In sight of many of them, a homeless man rummaged through the trash cans seeking something to eat.
He had a scruffy gray beard and matted shoulder length gray hair, his brown pants were tattered and dirty, his faded red sweatshirt was much too large and his black shoes were badly scuffed.
As so many well-dressed people streamed past him, he stopped rummaging while his lonely eyes looked up at them, gently pleading for someone to please buy him a meal.
But no-one did as the church goers ignored his plea, repulsed by his disheveled appearance.
Before the service started, this homeless man sat down in the back of the church. He smiled as people filed past him but he received no response from them.
Soon, captivating choir music filled the air, as bright light came through the many stained glass windows, joining with the overhead lights to illuminate the church and its large cross next to the podium on the stage.
Just then, with the knowledge of the church staff, this homeless man got-up and walked all the way to the front of the church and up to the podium, the parishioners stunned to see him on the stage.
There his wife and his daughter removed his gray wig and his gray beard and helped him into his black robes as a shocked congregation realized this man was not a down and out homeless man they had judged him as being.
Instead, it was their prominent Pastor James Joseph Wilson.
As he gazed at them, the congregation fell silent. “Good morning ladies and gentleman,” Pastor Wilson said with a smile. “Welcome to this House of God.
“I know many of you are surprised. What you have just witnessed was not done to embarrass you but to show you how easy it is to be willfully blind to the sufferings of others. And this is especially true when their appearance may be offensive.
“But in each person is the spark of the Divine. If we are to honor God, we must love all mankind and offer our compassion and charity to those in need, for as you just observed, there but for the grace of God go you and me.
“Of what meaning are our biblical teachings without action? God requires us to open our hearts in charitable giving and forgiveness, and not to be judgmental of others.
“Let us practice the Golden Rule, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ and we will each be doing our part to make this a better, more loving world for our children and for all of mankind.”